I don’t know whether I am more observant than the average person or just lucky (though perhaps this really isn’t the term) enough to be witness to some rather odd interactions. That these things often happen on public transportation or the supermarket should come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog on a fairly regular basis.
So, a short way into my journey home the bus stops at what is incorrectly named a terminal–at least for my route. I suppose it is a terminal for some routes, but none of that is particularly clear for me because I rarely ever stop there.
So the bus makes a stop at the Richmond Hill Terminal. A woman with mobility issues–I am not really up on the current nomenclature, so perhaps physically challenged or differently-abled are the correct terms. I would say disabled, but that doesn’t seem right. Feel free to fill me in on the correct terms if you can.
A woman with mobility issues got up from her seat an made her way to the front exit. She stopped. Perhaps she was gathering her breath. Perhaps she said something to the driver. Either way, a person behind her, mistaking her pause as an act of reconsideration, tried to scoot around her and nudged her to one side. This person also had some difficulty walking, but that seemed more to do with weight as she did not have a cane like the first person.
I found this scene distasteful, but it isn’t the reaction I am writing about. Instead, I am thinking about the interaction between the bus driver and this woman. I suppose she did not like how close or far he had stopped the bus from the curb. The driver didn’t bother to move the bus, but he stormed out of his seat and helped the woman and her walking stick down from the bus. I say stormed because the driver’s area is an enclosed space and he opened and shut this area with quite a bit of force.
The whole thing struck me as odd because the bus was equipped with both a ramp and the ability to kneel to one side to make it easier for people to get off. Neither of these devices were utilized.
When the driver got back on the bus, the driver made a weird gesture that once again, I found rather distasteful. This was saluted by guitar busker guy who bothered me a couple of rides ago with non-stop talking at a person. (Feel free to read it here). Bus driver ignored him, but later gave each other subtle “I’m on your side” nods when busker boy got off the bus.
For her part, the woman shrugged the whole thing off and continued on her way without looking back.
Discussing this with my girlfriend, we both concluded that people who don’t struggle with mobility or know someone in that situation, can’t accurately judge how important the little things are. A couple of centimetres closer to the curb probably meant a lot to the woman who had to lean on her cane to get off the bus. A couple of centimetres closer and her independence would be assured. As it was, she was forced to accept help from a disgruntled public transportation employee. He might have thought he was doing her a favour, but was he really?
In all fairness to the driver, I do not know what the woman said or what tone she said it in. His reaction might be to her attitude more than the situation. However, I just didn’t like it.